Maybe Utah Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, didn’t read the news—or maybe she didn’t care what it said. That’s because Utah is never at a loss for solving problems that don’t exist. In this case, it’s abortions—specifically, abortions for gender selection and perhaps race, whatever that means. The latest data suggest that abortions in the United States dropped 5 percent from 2008 to 2009, the lowest in a decade. And Utah is already way below the norm with 6.7 abortions per 1,000 women compared with 19.6 nationwide in 2008. But Dayton must think that the lower numbers of abortions indicate a more selective group of wily women seeking male heirs. But, wait! This isn’t China or Pakistan, is it? Is there really some cultural gender preference in Mormon doctrine that the Legislature needs to squelch? We’ll find out soon.
Brian Moench tells it like it is. But is anybody listening? Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, skewered Utah officials who just decided to implement a new air-alert system with more fun colors and, according to Moench, its share of misinformation. The new system dumbs down unhealthy levels, essentially saying that some pollution is OK for healthy people. That is simply not true, he says, adding that it affects intelligence and possibly activates autism in children. “The ‘moderate’ pollution levels common to the Wasatch Front correspond to a loss of intellectual capacity equivalent to three years of aging,” he says. And he blames a lot of the problem on Gov. Gary Herbert, whose policies blissfully promote pollution. Good on Moench for keeping up the pressure. Someone ought to pay attention.
Neither the past, the present nor the future looks good for Utah schoolchildren. While the Legislature has long prided itself on producing well-educated kids at low cost, the truth is that the cost is to kids’ education. A report from the U.S. Department of Education puts the rate of high school graduation in Utah in the bottom half of the country. And for Latinos, it’s the fourth lowest, at 56 percent. The school population is rising dramatically, with minorities and English-language learners falling behind. Not so good, either, especially for Salt Lake District with its high minority population. It’s time to stop blaming teachers and throw some old-fashioned money at the problem.